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Joanna Jedrzejczyk plotting return in 2021, but ‘I don’t see myself fighting without fans’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Joanna Jedrzejczyk is plotting her return to action but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced her to adjust to a brand new world where booking a fight isn’t as easy as accepting an offer from the UFC.

According to the former strawweight champion, travel restrictions have prevented her from easily accessing her team and coaches at American Top Team in Florida, which in turn has kept her at home in Poland for the majority of the pandemic.

“Because of the COVID situation, somehow, I can’t go back to the states,” Jedrzejczyk explained during a live chat with Laura Sanko ahead of UFC Fight Island 6. “I don’t see myself preparing in Poland or somewhere outside of American Top Team without Mikey Brown, Katel Kubis, American Top Team in general. I love these people. They are my team. I think I will be back next year.

“I was planning to get back to the states in the middle of this year, October, the end of this year but probably it’s going to be January. I’m training. I’m training every single day. I train everyday. I do lots of cardio, lots of jiu-jitsu, lots of boxing. So I keep on rolling every single day and hustling everyday.”

Jedrzejczyk last competed in March when she lost a razor-close split decision to reigning strawweight queen Zhang Weili in a Fight of the Year candidate.

In the aftermath of that epic war, the Polish fighter took time off to relax and recover but along the way she tagged one of her own posts on Instagram with the word ‘retired.’

That led to speculation that perhaps Jedrzejczyk was calling it a career but she says that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“I’m living my best life,” Jedrzejczyk said. “I’m living my dream. As you know, I was always busy and I’m very happy. I’m still fighting. I’m not retired.

“So many people on my social media they’re commentating that I’m retired, they’re asking but I’m not. I’m just taking my time.”

As of now, Jedzrejczyk doesn’t have any specific opponents in mind for her next fight but she does see one major obstacle preventing her from getting excited about competing again.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the UFC has not put on events with fans in attendance since the pandemic started and it’s not likely that will change any time soon.

Even with many open air stadiums allowing a reduced number of fans in attendance, UFC president Dana White has been adamant that he’s not even thinking about opening up events for an audience at this time.

That’s disappointing news for Jedrzejczyk, who says she draws a lot of her inspiration from the crowds and that might be the biggest hurdle to clear when it comes to her next fight.

“I don’t see myself fighting without fans, without an audience,” Jedrzejczyk said. “You know how I interact with people. I don’t see myself fighting without fans. There is no sport without fans, any sport.

“I want my people to watch me live and support me. I just need it. I need this energy from people. This atmosphere always makes me feel so good.”

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